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31 October 1842 – Father Jerome-Basile Grange to Jean-Claude Colin, with a note added by Joseph Chevron, Tonga

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, October 2015

France, Father Colin, (him only) 4 St Barthelemy, Lyons.

Tonga Tapu, 31 October, 1842

Very Reverend Father,
I thought I would have more time to write to you, and would have given you many details about everything I have been able to learn about the mission; I know that other men have already done that and will do so in the future, but you know that our mission is not a diocese where one man on his own can see everything, and, besides, each man has his own way of seeing things. So I will tell you frankly and briefly what I have seen and think, leaving it to your wisdom to reshape my thoughts and even my way of seeing things.
I think that the Oceania mission is not doing very well, and especially the New Zealand part of it. Bishop Pompallier is too generous and perhaps too concerned with show or, rather, thinks too much that show is needed for the good of the mission. All the allocations are used for that alone, and the Fathers receive no help, or almost none, in their stations, and as a result cannot achieve all the good that they would be able to. Another thing which I don’t think is very good is that the Bishop goes and prepares the way for the mission, always with this show, and promising a lot of gifts, then after him comes the Father who cannot carry out any promise. That is why the natives tell the Fathers, the Bishop is good, but you are worth nothing...
As well, our poverty has been so great that all the shirts and other things given to the mission to be given away, we have been obliged to sell at a high price, and that is the reason why we are called hard-hearted... I do not think it is right that land has been bought at the Bay of Islands for 25,000 francs, which is giving no return, while we have been forced to borrow money at 20 % interest. It is not good, perhaps, that 5 or 6 people have been fed, housed and clothed from the mission’s funds while the Fathers and Brothers are suffering. I think it is bad that we pay 80 centimes [16 sous] a pound for bread, while by buying the flour needed for it and making it in the house, it could be had for 25 centimes [5 sous]. I say the same about the meat.
I think it is of the utmost importance that there be another Bishop in the islands. I say that all the more assuredly because you will not suspect me of ambition. I believe that the Bishop, always too kind, has given Captain Michel letters of recommendation[1] to receive a cross of honour from the Holy Pontiff, but I really think it would be inappropriate that a man without faith received insignia which should only be a recognition of piety. I think it would be good if you set up correspondence with the Minister of the Navy[2] for the good of the mission. We would be visited more often by warships, and perhaps as well missionaries and goods for the missionaries would be brought more promptly. Captain Michel is to make you a suggestion which could be advantageous to the mission. It would be based on an agreement to make himself responsible, in return for an agreed sum of money, to take missionaries into every place in the mission. I think that action in this matter would demand great precaution. To bring six men to the Bay of Islands, we had to spend 13,000 francs, not including the cost of carrying the baggage. This most recent matter, with the appointment of a Vicar-Apostolic, would remove Bishop Pompallier’s reason for buying another vessel which would cost 30,000 francs each year, and the mission would be better served.
In all this I am judging nothing because it is not my place to judge. You will think about it what you want to.
I am in Tonga with good Father Chevron and Brother Attale. We have been forced to build two establishments 5 leagues [about 25 km] apart. I made my vows at the hands of Father Garin, provincial of New Zealand. I will be truly indebted to you if you judge it appropriate and send Mme Robin a copy of my letter addressed to Mme Faure. Mme Robin can be of great use to the mission by getting medicaments for it. Here is her address : Mme Robin, 6 Place de la Boucherie de St Paul, Lyons.
I have spoken to the Bishop. He has allowed that everything sent to me from France as a gift would be sent on to me. I am asking the same favour of you, Very Reverend Father, and if you think it appropriate, I would ask you to add to the parcel that would be sent to me directly, summer soutanes and some flannel waistcoats. Tell me please, if the Bishop can force us to send through him all letters speaking about the mission. Up till now I could hardly believe it.
I am in good health and am happy. There is a lot of wretchedness and suffering here, but ask the good God to give me a love of souls and love of himself, and then I will say, like St Augustine: Whenever it is loved, it is not found difficult, but if it is found difficult, the work is loved.[3] If I thought only of myself, I could not carry the load, but when I think of Our Lord Jesus with the burden of his cross, and of his divine Mother who is also mine, standing at the foot of the cross, I am ashamed at not suffering more.
I cast myself at your feet, Very Reverend Father, so as to receive your blessing, the least and most respectful and submissive of your children.
Grange, miss(sionary apostolic)
Priest of the Society of Mary
[10] [in Chevron’s hand]
Reverend Father, I have just written a fairly long letter to Reverend Father Forest, I thought I had to address that letter to Father Forest to really bring him up to date with the situation in the mission. I thought I would write as well to you. It is already very late, and I have to set out tomorrow to go to the ship which is three leagues away [c 15 km]. They want to raise the anchor tomorrow. Please remember me to all our good Fathers. I have the honour to be your totally devoted son,
J(oseph) Chevron
We have just noticed that Father Grange has not been given an altar stone; it will take a good 8 or 10 months for our letters to get to the Bay of Islands, and the return trip to be added... Our mission is going to be terribly affected by that. It means a station made impossible and a village abandoned, as it were, to Protestantism.
[12] [in Grange’s writing]
Concerning the arrangement with Captain Michel, we believe, with Father Chevron, that it would be a very important matter, and which, with an agreement with the Picpus Fathers, would be a saving.


  1. Louis Michel, captain of the mission schooner (cf doc 192 [4, 15, 21, 26-27] ; 194 [1]; 200 [1, 3]; 201 [1])
  2. Victor Guy, baron Duperre, minister for the Navy 29 October 1840 to 7 February 1843 (cf Dictionary of Ministers p131)
  3. ubi amatur non laboratur, aut si laboratur, labor amatur

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